When a spot opened up on Guyer’s coaching staff, the Wildcats only had to look right down the road to find a suitable replacement.
Russ Phillips, the head coach at Ponder for one season, has resigned from his current position and will join Guyer as an assistant strength and conditioning coach next season. Phillips said he will also be coaching receivers as well.
The vacancy occurred after Guyer’s former strength and conditioning coach, Bryan Kegan, was hired by the University of Texas as an assistant to practice what he perfected at Guyer. Phillips takes over for Kyle Keese, who was promoted to take over for Kegan.
Phillips said leaving Ponder was the hardest thing he’s ever done. The new Guyer assistant said he’s excited about the move to the school located about a mile from his house.
“I know a lot of those guys over there already [and] have a good relationship with them,” Phillips said. “I think it’s one of those deals that if I don’t take it, I’ll look back down the road and wonder why I didn’t.”
Ponder athletic director Jude Stanley said he expects to fill the Lions’ current vacant head football coaching vacancy in about a week.
“He did a good job for us at Ponder, and I guess I wish him nothing but the best at Guyer, and I know he’s going to continue to be the good football coach and fine quality man that he is,” Stanley said.
Phillips was the wide receivers coach at Ponder for two seasons before he was promoted to head coach after Rubin Covington left to become the offensive coordinator at Mansfield Lake Ridge.
In one season at the Class 2A school, Phillips went 2-8 in his only season with the school as the Lions went winless in District 5-2A (DI).
Guyer head coach John Walsh said the position was highly sought after, but Phillips stood out from the rest of the applicants. Walsh met with Phillips on Monday. Phillips shortly submitted his letter of resignation soon after the meeting.
“Russ lives in Corinth and I’ve known of him and I knew him when he was the offensive coordinator at Lewisville, and I’ve always been interested in him,” Walsh said. “We were looking for someone to help Keese in the strength department, and if you’ve seen him, he’s a physical presence. He’s also real strong offensively and it’ll help us there, too. He just brings a ton of experience.”
Phillips said he was very torn about leaving the program he took over last season.
“It’s tough to leave these kids that I’ve built a relationship with,” Phillips said. “It’s tough to leave the coaches that I’ve built a relationship with. If you have any merit at all to you, in this profession, you still develop bonds that are hard to break with kids and coaches and administrators. It just makes it difficult for me.”
Phillips joins a Guyer squad that will enter the season as the favorite to defend its Class 4A Division I state championship. The transition to a much bigger stage is something to which Phillips is looking forward.
“It’s thrilling,” Phillips said. “When I was at Lewisville early on in my career, when we were good, being on the big stage every Friday night was exciting. It’s going to be fun to get back to that.”
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.